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ESRB RATING: Teen
Many were surprised when DICE studios (previously only well known for their Battlefield series) announced a brand-new IP that had nothing to do with soldiers in gigantic battles. Mirror’s Edge is about as far removed from their previous games as you can get, a quiet, solitary title that has you running from rooftop to rooftop- all in a first person perspective.
It’s the future. You play as Faith, a runner for an organization that seeks to distribute information in a city where everything is monitored. Much like the world we live in, the people of her city have given up their freedom for safety, and it soon got so bad that no one was allowed to think or speak for themselves. Faith’s mother was gunned down during one of the last big protests, which threw her daughter into a life of crime… until she met up with the group and decided to use her skills as a runner.
The game is all about momentum. Try and keep yourself at full speed by keeping mostly in a straight line and hitting jumps right before you hit the object to propel yourself over faster.
Soon after the story picks up Faith finds out that her sister is in deep trouble with the police, and she attempts to find out the truth.
The story’s pretty simplistic and obvious, and it isn’t helped that it’s told between levels by what looks like flash animation. Why use silly, cartoonish animated shorts to tell a story when you’ve got a perfectly good game engine? It doesn’t make sense, and doesn’t fit with the rest of the game. But the plot is not the reason anyone will play this one, of course. It’s to experience something new.
The most remarkable thing about the game is that first person perspective. The list of non-shooters that use a first person view is a very short one, but that didn’t stop DICE from making what is easily the most easily controlled first person game around.
You wouldn’t think it works as well as it does, especially considering how simple it is. The left bumper (or L1) is used for up movement (jumping, hurtling over objects, wallrunning) and the left trigger (L2) is used for down movement- slides, tumbles, etc. That’s it, and pretty much all you need.
CHUDTIP- Remember to bring a barf bag if you get vertigo.
Oh sure, there’s a bullet-time focus move that will let you aim your moves carefully, a punch, and a disarm move, but for the most part of the game you’ll simply be running around from roof to roof. The interesting thing about the game is that it’s almost a puzzler at points, where you have to look around for ledges and pipes to climb your way up to the top of a structure or vice versa.
They cleverly let you see Faith’s arms and legs, which may not be
completely realistic but allows you to feel like you’re actually
running around, climbing over and grabbing onto this city. Since her movement’s parkour (or free-running) based you’re pretty damn nimble and able
to get over pretty much every surface.
There are enemies, of course, but it’s rare that you’ll fight them-
this is a running game, after all. The chases are frantic and exciting and you’ve got to be fast to keep ahead of your enemy’s bullets. Once in a while you’ll be cornered and have no choice but to fight, and while you can grab your enemies weapons and use them against them they’re more like power-ups than anything, and you’ve only got the bullets left in the gun to use.
You get an achievement for not using any guns in the game, but it’s hard… you’ll have to go around disarming people instead of ventilating them.
But besides a few missed chances, what this game does right is offer you incredibly fun, fluid movement that simply never gets old.
Many have spoken about the style in this game, and it truly is a
beautiful game. This dystopian future isn’t the gritty, dirty vision
we’re used to- it’s almost immaculately clean and white. This allows
the colors in the game to really pop and make each area look different.
The use of the color red for “Runner Vision” (an option which shows you objects to
interact with- although they might not always be the best way to go) is
incredibly clever, and adds even more to the look of the game.
The character models leave a little to be desired, as do the weapons (it’s kind of lame that the belt on the belt-fed machinegun
doesn’t actually animate) but since the game isn’t really about that, I
can give it a pass. Especially when you look down to the city and see cars driving around and people walking about- it’s nothing that you’ll interact with but it adds so much to the feeling of being in a real world.
The music as well is absolutely perfect, giving off a floaty awe-inspiring feel that perfectly captures the feeling you’ll get of standing on these skyscrapers.
The Hurricaine Katrina-based level is more fun than you’d think. Ride the waves!
While the simplicity of the game is one of its strengths, it’s one of its weaknesses as well. The game isn’t very long, and once you figure out what to do you’ll be able to beat it in a few hours. When you beat the game the first time you’ll unlock a hard difficulty mode, which will make your enemies much more persistant. You’ll also unlock a speedrun mode, one that’s miraculously fun as hell (if you know me, you know I think speedrunning is ridiculous), mostly because each time you tackle a level you’ll find new ways to move through it.
Besides that there are 23 Time Trial modes that allow you to compete against yourself (a ghost will appear running your best previous run), your friends, and the world. At any time you can race one of your friends or the top ranked person in the world. This adds a lot of replay value to the game, but it’s not the same as a longer campaign.
A truly innovative game that’ll ruin you for any other first person game in the future. Running around never felt so fluid, so simply fun. and you never felt as in control of your actions. If only the storyline were more fleshed out and there was a little more to it… but then again, there’s always room for a sequel.
8.5 out of 10